Your toilet keeps running every few minutes so what do you do? Well, this problem is really easy to fix once you’ve isolated the problem. In order to do that you need to learn the basic components that sit on the inside of your tank.
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How a toilet works
When you flush the toilet the lever pulls up the flapper and lets water into the tank rushing through the bowl into the flush valve. As the water rushes out of the tank the fill (float) valve drops and the flapper remains open until all the water drains. Then the flapper drops back into place.
Next, water flows back into the tank through the supply line into the fill valve to refill the tank through an overflow tube. As the tank water rises, the float rises and this trips the fill valve to stop the incoming water.
Stopping a toilet that keeps running every few minutes
If you hear a toilet that’s constantly running that means its in a constant refill mode. Make sure the fill tube is above the water line. If its under water trim it down. If that doesn’t work you can tell if the flapper is the problem if the noise stops when you jiggle the handle.
You can also manually hold down the flapper to see if the noise stops and if it does then try loosening the chain because it may be holding the flapper open slightly.
You may also need to replace the flapper by lifting off the old one and putting a new one in its place. Clean off any residue or buildup that generally sits under the flapper seat with a scouring pad. There are different size flappers so make sure to get the right size replacement.
Leaky flush valve
If you have a toilet that is constantly cycling through out the day you might have a leaking flush valve. You’re either going to have one of two types of flush valves, tower or flapper style. What happens over time is that the chlorine and chemicals in the water slowly dry out the rubber and it changes the shape.
The warped rubber flapper or gasket causes water to leak out. As water in the tank lowers, it has to refill again and your toilet is constantly having to cycle. So all you need to do is change the round gasket if you’ve have a tower flush or the flapper on the flap style.
Be sure to get the right size because there’s no longer a universal size. Find out whether you have a 2 inch or 3 inch flush valve. All of the newer toilets whether it’s 1.6 or 1.28 gallons per flush now use the 3 inch flush valve. So you’ll either be buying a 2 or 3 inch rubber gasket or a 2 or 3 inch flapper. You need to know the size before you go to the hardware store.
The dye test
Another thing you can do to try and isolate the cause of a constantly running toilet is with a dye tablet or food coloring. (any color will work)
You flush and hold the lever until most of the water is out of the tank. Once you’ve drained out as much water as you can drop the dye table or food coloring in and let go of the handle. Let it sit for 15 – 20 minutes.
The water in the tank will turn whatever color dye or food coloring that you put in it. You do not want to see the color of the dye get into the bowl. If you don’t see any color in the bowl your flapper is not leaking.
If you see the color dye that you put in the tank appear in the bowl your flapper is leaking. In the latter case you’d need to replace the flapper or call a plumber to do it for you.